פ’ משפטים תשע”ט
Volume 27, Issue 6
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin and The Call of the Torah.
ואלה המשפטים אשר תשים לפניהם
“And these are the ordinances that you shall place before them…”(21:1)
Rashi notes that whenever a connecting letter vav precedes the word אלה, these, it implies a continuation of the previous subject – in this case, the Ten Commandments. Accordingly, the presence of the letter vav at the beginning of this parsha is a declaration that just as the Ten Commandments were received at by Israel at Mount Sinai, so were the laws presented here.
Thus, at the very onset of the discussion of the civil code, which began with this parsha, the Torah reminds us that all Jewish law is of Divine origin. For justice, the basis of law, we cannot depend upon man’s heart but rather on the guidance of G-d, as King David declared, Justice looks down from heaven (Psalms 85:12). It emanates from Hashem, who is its only source. This inability of man to know the essence and nature of justice on his own stems from man’s limited understanding of himself and others, in comparison to the all-knowing view of Hashem. (Kol HaTorah)
שלם ישלם שור תחת השור
“He shall surely pay an ox for an ox…” (21:36)
A verse earlier states that if someone injures another person he should be punished an eye for an eye. We can derive from a gezeirah shavah that the verse does not mean literally that the attacker will be blinded. That verse states, an eye “for” an eye. Our verse, too, says, He shall surely pay an ox “for” an ox. The common word “for” teaches that just as our verse clearly is talking about a monetary payment, so too the verse about injuring a person is talking about a monetary payment. (Teachings of the Talmud, Bava Kamma 84a)
אם כסף תלוה את עמי את העני עמך
“When you lend money to My people, to the poor person who is with you shall you lend.” (22:24)
A careful reading of our verse teaches us the priorities we should have in financially helping others. If there is a choice between giving charity to a member of “My people” or someone from a different nation, Hashem’s people come first.
If there is a choice between lending to a rich person or a poor person, “the poor person” comes first. If there is a choice between lending to a poor person from your family or a poor person from your city, the poor of your family who are “with you” come first. Relatives are considered closer even if they live farther away.
If there is a choice between lending to a poor person from your city or a poor person from elsewhere, the poor who are “with you,” in your city, come first. (Teachings of the Talmud, Bava Metzia 71a)
ועבדתם את ה’ אלקיכם וברך את לחמך ואת מימיך
“And you shall serve G-d, your G-d, and He shall bless your bread and your water.” (23:25)
QUESTION: Why does the verse begin “va’avadetem” – “you (plural) shall serve” – and conclude “lachmecha ve’et meimecha” – “your (singular) bread and water”?
ANSWER: Our Sages speak very highly of tefilah betzibur – davening with a minyan. The word “tzibur” (צבור) is an acronym for “צדיקים בינונים ורשעים” – “righteous, intermediate, and wicked.” Individually, one may not be worthy that Hashem grant him desires. However, the zechut of the multitude can help pull through even those who in their own right are lacking merits. The Torah is advising that if you want Hashem to bless “lachemcha” – “your bread” – with abundance, this can be accomplished through “va’avadetem” – praying betzibur – and the zechut of the many will stand you in good stead. (Vedebarta Bam)
ואתן לך את הלחת האבן
“And I shall give you the stone tablets…” (24:12)
We learn from our verse that the entire Torah, Written and Oral, was given to Moshe at Sinai. Each phrase in our verse refers to another part of the Torah:
- לחת – Tablets – This refers to the Ten Commandments.
- תורה – Torah – This refers to the Five Books of the Torah.
- והמצוה – And the commandment – This refers to the Mishnah.
- אשר כתבתי – Which I have written – This refers to the Nevi’im and Ketuvim.
- להורתם – To teach them – This refers to the Gemara.
(Teachings of the Talmud, Brachot 5a)
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